Vaping stirs debate over policies

Many consider vaping different from smoking and yet every Canadian insurance carrier disagrees putting research at odds with the underwriters. Who’s right?

Medical marijuana is a touchy subject with insurance carriers in Canada.

How so?

All of them consider ingesting marijuana or vaping it to be the same thing as smoking the drug, a fact that’s not lost on some in the industry who question the logic of life underwriters in this country.

"To be honest, it really doesn't make sense," said Syed Raza, the director of marketing with Toronto-based LSM Insurance.
"When they complete an application, they're expected to mark down that they are smokers. And as a result, pay a higher premium for their life insurance. And with the premium difference that a smoker will pay over a non-smoker, it's just not right.”

According to Health Canada, heart disease is the number one killer in Canada putting a burden on our health care system like no other. So, it’s not hard to understand why smokers pay as much as double the premiums non-smokers do. Most rational advisors don’t have a problem with this underwriting stance.

But evidence suggests that using a vaporizer can reduce the risks of pulmonary disease.

“The vapourizer raises cannabinoid levels in humans but does not raise exhaled CO levels. One pre-post design clinical trial showed that users with respiratory irritation improved symptoms and lung function after switching to a vapourizer,” wrote authors Mallory Lofflin and Mitch Earlywine in the winter edition of the Canadian Journal of Respiratory Therapy. “In short, vapourizers show promise for cannabis users who want to avoid pulmonary problems and prefer a more rapid onset than edibles provide.”

Raza believes that insurance carriers will be forced to change their ways in the future either by regulatory influence or through consumer protest.

"The only way carriers are going to change is by consumers voicing their opinions,” said Raza.